Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What I Learned in March


 As usual, I'm linking up with Emily to share what I learned this month!

1. Small things can feel like really big things.
I mentioned that for my goal pertaining to "faith" this month I just wanted to get my hymn calendar hung. It seems like a sort of silly thing, but I knew it would be really meaningful to me. And I was right, I've loved catching a glimpse of such good words- and such pretty art- when I walk through the door or relax on the swing.

2. When someone is struggling, it might be helpful to ask "Do you just need me to listen or would you like me to troubleshoot this with you?" I recently read a post that was talking about raising teenagers and advising parents not to dish out unsolicited advice, which of course is sort of a good general rule in life. BUT. I always hate sitting there not saying anything worthwhile (even though I know that, at times, that's just the right thing to do), especially because sometimes people do want help. At least I know with myself, it can really vary- sometimes I want help problem solving and sometimes I just really need some empathy and a listening ear. A friend of mine was struggling with some stuff recently and it occurred to me for the first time ever to start with this question. I have no idea if this was particularly helpful to this person or not but I told Peyton about it because I thought it could really benefit me in certain situations (for what it's worth, he said he'd feel really awkward actually asking someone that and he'd rather just try to pick up on cues; also for what it's worth, he's way better at picking up on cues than I am). To be clear, I say it *might* be helpful because I can only speak from my own experience but I know that discovering this was really a neat insight.  

3. I'm really drawn to the concept of a "uniform" for the kids (and for myself, but it's hard to purge my stuff and they need new stuff as they grow so it's an easier adjustment to just buy less rather than get rid of stuff). 
 For example, Graves recently outgrew his church shoes. I found some precious white Oxford shoes that I had bought ahead but they're hard and slippery and understandably he's sort of over that. I asked him what he'd like for his church shoes (I'm trying to do that more!) and he said red Converse. Surprisingly, they go with most of his stuff and the atmosphere at Northside is pretty casual. So now he has regular tennis shoes (that he calls his "play shoes", which makes me smile), still a little big Star Wars shoes, too small Crocs, and Converse for church (and wherever else; they wash so easily). Annie still has about nine million pairs, but this feels like another good step. As I said, I really like the idea of a "uniform" and when we phased out the jon jons this season we sort of accidentally stumbled into a church uniform for Graves- he had about three button up shirts and several pairs of pants (either thin corduroy or flannel gingham) that I could mix and match. The converse and suspenders made the outfit, though. And he had a couple of sweaters/sweater vests to wear in lieu of the suspenders when it was cold. I really loved how well it worked and the simplicity of it!

4. If I put a tiny bit of alcohol in my ears the sensation helps with the sinus pressure I have. This is so weird and out there but for some reason when Peyton was putting it in the kids' ears after swimming, I wanted to just try it. I was feeling really congested and often I feel that in my ears, too. I guess it's sort of like how a Neti Pot clears out your nose. It's just...refreshing?

5. It's amazing when your children start to feel like teammates. 
I've mentioned before that I'm a night owl and Annie is my little sidekick and we have such a wonderful time together after the boys go to bed. Last night I was doing dishes and making egg salad at 11:30 (per usual) and Annie told me she wanted to get together books for our day trip to Granny's the next day (she's been helping me get their stuff together for church on Saturday nights). She did that and then collected some stuffed animals to take. Them she said "okay, all that's left is our clothes". And the most precious part was when she picked out outfits for her and Graves and hung them on the bookcase. It's such much fun when they become real helpers and contributors and it's happening at just the perfect time with her.

6. The more tasks I can accomplish sitting down the better! Um, duh. But at seven months pregnant this has been a little life changing. It started when I realized it would be a nice gift to myself if I would just take um, three extra seconds to sit down when I put on my shoes. I may never bend over to do it again! And the last two times I've vacuumed I've sat down on the couch while I recoiled the cord. There are tons of other examples, but I'm trying to do little tiny things that help make my days more sustainable.

7. Many (most? all?) of the stories from Sally Lloyd-Jones's The Jesus Storybook Bible have been made into YouTube videos.

It's basically the art from the book with a bit of motion- nothing fancy- but my kids have loved them. It's one of my favorite books ever- not even just in regards to children's literature, but period- so I loved making this discovery!

8. Too often I make joy an adversary. I read this post this month and I felt like the writer nailed it and I related to it so much. I feel like one thing I am pretty successful with is helping with the hurts, hardships, and disappointment. In fact, Peyton I were discussing this recently-I feel like one of the great accomplishments of my LIFE, let alone my mothering, has been teaching Annie to articulate her needs and desires and reach within herself to find solutions. But simply being present in their joy? THAT is so much harder for me. Too often, I'm afraid that I too have made joy an adversary- for me too it's an "emotion that is hard to inhabit comfortably"- and I too want to work to change that.

 It's always such a fun exercise to reflect on how I'm learning and growing and what is really working for us right now.


Mallory Pickering said...

RE: Number 2. I was the friend. Yes, it was helpful. And I didn't feel like it was awkward at all. I like voicing what I need really directly, and I appreciate it when other people voice what they need really directly. If people did that on the regular, communication and expectations in relationships would be much more manageable. BUT I also realize that I hadn't even thought about it as being super significant because we already have a certain flow and just get each other. So it felt really natural to look at in a strategic way. You know me well enough to know that making a plan for how to address something calms my anxiety a lot.

Still, though. I think the idea of just asking is refreshing and probably effective in most situations. And when someone doesn't know what they want, they answer is always empathy. One can never go wrong with listening and empathy. So, there's the default. IMHO.

Sarah Denley said...

I think it worked out well because we do have that flow. Maybe it wouldn't be the most natural way to approach something with everyone, but I'm like you and especially lately I just really value a certain willingness to be direct. It is refreshing to me!

And YES! You are so right- the default should always be empathy.

I'm so glad you're in my life, friend!

Jessica said...

Excited to know about the Story Bible on YouTube. Great share. Thanks!

Kristin Taylor said...

Good stuff! My kids go to a small, classical school ... and wear uniforms. I love it! They have khaki bottoms and various shirts they wear. I love it so much. I'm glad I linked up near you at Emily's place!